by Linsay Vidrine
Lately we’ve been bombarded by dismal reports about the economy, and every newscast comes armed with a “special news series” on how we can stretch our dollars further.
Other Fresh Greens contributors have discussed great strategies for saving money, so I don’t want to belabor that point. That said, I would like to take this opportunity to talk about ways to celebrate the upcoming holiday season while also staying within your financial means.
I come from a ridiculously large family, (eight grandparents alone, not to mention my husband’s equally large family) so the holidays typically involve a lot of gift giving. Over the years we’ve had to get creative with expressing our love through gifts, while not breaking the bank. One strategy that helps is drawing names instead of buying a gift for every individual. We’ve found this is a great way to get in the giving spirit without the stress (financial or physical) of buying for everyone.
Another helpful tip is thinking outside the box—as in the big box retail store. I have to say some of the most memorable gifts I’ve ever given or received have not come from the mall. For example, one year my aunt put together a three-ring binder with family recipes for all of my siblings and cousins. It was so simple and inexpensive in design, yet extremely meaningful for us. Each recipe noted the family member whose kitchen produced it and a family tree so that future generations can make the connections. Even those of us who are not particularly crafty could pull this off smoothly.
Over the years, other great non-traditional gifts have included making a charitable donation in someone’s name and “adopting” a street, whale, or other animal on behalf of a relative. And don’t forget much-needed contributions to food banks or clothing and toy drives.
For those hard-to-buy-for types, I pick up some tasty handmade treats from the Oklahoma Food Coop or a Made In Oklahoma company. With so many wonderful baked goods, jams and even wines, these goodies are sure to please while supporting local producers. I also like to give the gift of Oklahoma through gift certificates to one of our state parks or a subscription to Oklahoma Today magazine. At just under $15, these Okie t-shirts are another one of my favorite things this holiday season.
This year I’m also brainstorming how to make our son’s first Christmas special. At only four months old, he won’t really understand gifts, so I think Santa can skip our house this time around. Instead we’ve discussed planting a tree to mark the occasion. Then each year we can take his picture next to the tree as they both grow.
Before the holiday season gets into full swing, I hope you’ll take some time to think about unique ways to give without stressing yourself out or breaking the bank in the process. I’m sure many of you have other great ways to give green without spending a lot of green, and we welcome these ideas in the comments section.